October 24, 2004

Responses to Slush Funds

Today's Syracuse Post-Standard runs a followup article to the series on New York Slush Funds they ran earlier this week. Much to my surprise, I wound up quoted on the front page:

Down in Dryden, Simon St. Laurent writes a blog, an online diary about life in the Tompkins County town.

But this past week, St. Laurent's Internet diary has focused on Albany - on the slush funds Gov. George Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno are using to pay for more than $1 billion in grants to favored Little Leagues, churches, private schools and multibillion-dollar corporations.

In The Post-Standard's series, "New York's Slush Funds," St. Laurent read how the state's three political leaders used money borrowed without voter approval to pay for 1,720 pork projects.

The series inspired St. Laurent to call a Dryden cemetery to ask what it did with an $80,000 Senate grant and to call Cornell University to ask about $25 million it received.

"Its the borrowing that bothers me the most," said St. Laurent, who edits books about computers. "I'm happy to have the state give Cornell or some hospital money. But it should be done through a pay-as-you-go member items."

To clarify, I don't mind odd budget items sponsored by members, but think they should have to go through the regular budget process, in public, not as gifts handed out by the leadership. They quoted me right - I just seem to have interpreted "member item" as "funding a member gets for a district," not as "a gift to a member for their district by the leadership," which is how it gets used later in the article. Also, the $25 million to Cornell seems to have gone to their Life Sciences Technology Initiative, though I haven't found anything more specific than that.

The rest of the article quotes people who know a lot more than I do, including one of the authors of the Brennan Center of Justice report on how to fix New York State legislative process (405KB PDF).

There's also an AP story on general frustration in the state with Albany.

They also have a series of articles on the race for the 24th Congressional District, with articles on Republican incumbent Sherwood Boehlert, Democratic challenger Jeff Miller, and Conservative challenger David Walrath.

Posted by simon at October 24, 2004 10:21 AM in ,
Note on photos